Saturday, 23 January 2016

Carla through - opponent retires

10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro from Spain was next on Margaret Court Arena after the Djokovic Seppi encounter, and her opponent was 109 ranked Russian Elizaveta Kulichkova who had knocked out 22nd seed Andrea Petkovic in the first round, so clearly she was a qualifier in good form.  Carla is a former quarter finalist at the Aus Ooen but that was seven years ago and she has not made it past the third round since.  However she has played some of her best tennis over the past year and should make it through to the fourth round after tonight.

Elizaveta (EK from this point) served first and an ace was the most exciting thing to note as she held serve in an error riddled game to lead 1-0.  Carla hit two forehand winners on her way to levelling at 1-1.

EK came up with winners on both wings and looked quite good maintaining the advantage 2-1, but games remained on serve with Carla displaying her doubles prowess, volleying for success and reaching 2-2.

The first break came in game five where three break points were created, the second through a Russian double fault and the third via a forehand winner from Carla who converted the third to lead 3-2.  EK had three break points of her own in the very next game, all due to errors from the Spanish racquet - the serve was broken and 3-3 was the game score.

EK double faulted for a second deuce, but overcame that disappointment and hit a forehand winner to hold serve and lead 4-3.  Carla then asserted her authority with a love game on her service, including three clean winners.  

EK began the ninth game with an ace, but a backhand winner from Carla and errors from the Russian brought up break point which was sealed with a double fault.  5-4 to Spain and Carla serving for the set.

The game was set up with Carla's forehand and an ace was the sealer for set one.  6-4 to Suarez Navarro.

Unforced errors from EK and a backhand winner from Carla combined for a service break in the opening game of set two, and Carla held her serve on the back of a forehand winner and another ace.

Unfortunately the ace was the final point of the match as Elizaveta was forced to retire due to a lower back injury.

The match was won by Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4 2-0 (ret) and she has now progressed to the fourth round of the Aus Open for the first time since 2009.  She will play Australia's Daria Gavrilova for a quarter final spot.

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